Artemi Panarin will reportedly take a leave of absence from the New York Rangers in the aftermath of a political hit piece against him from Russia alleging that he beat up an 18-year-old girl in the country in 2011, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
Breaking news: Panarin is taking a leave of absence from NYR in aftermath of political hit piece against him from Russia alleging that he beat up an 18-year-old girl in Russia in 2011.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) February 22, 2021
Panarin recently voiced his opinion against Russian President Vladimir Putin and in support of his opposition, Alexei Navalny, in an Instagram post. He has been outspoken against Putin for a long time. In a 2019 interview, Panarin ripped Putin, saying, "I think he no longer understands what's right and what's wrong," among other things.
According to Mollie Walker of the New York Post, the allegations against Panarin are coming from former NHLer and KHL coach Andrei Nazarov.
The allegations are coming from a former head coach of Panarin's while he was with the KHL's Vitayaz, Andrei Nazarov, who has repeatedly criticized Panarin for his outspoken position on Russian president Vladimir Putin's regime.— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) February 22, 2021
Panarin is in his second season with the Rangers. He signed a seven-year, $81.5 million contract with the franchise in July 2019. In 14 games this season, he has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points.
It's unclear when or if Panarin will return to the team for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.